POLK COUNTY – Lawyers representing the Florida Education Association filed litigation against Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran and others on July 20 in an attempt to block the reopening of public schools in August statewide.
“We believe that (reopening on schedule) is reckless,” Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram said during a press conference.
Ingram said the litigation is an attempt to make school reopening plans a local school board decision.
One of the plaintiffs in the FEA litigation is a Broward County teacher who spent several weeks in an Intensive Care Unit for treatment of COVID-19. Other litigants include two teachers who say they have existing medical conditions that place them at increased risk.
There is some evidence that local school boards already have the power to delay school reopening.
Gov. DeSanits hosted a press conference on COVID-19 July 23, during which time he said no parent should be forced to send their child to school and teachers should be given the option of working remotely.
“If a school district needs to delay school for a few weeks, have at it,” DeSantis said.
The Polk County School Board recently authorized delaying the reopening for a couple of weeks.
During a Polk County School Board meeting July 21, Polk County Public Schools Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd said she has been in regular contact with Polk County Health Department Director Dr. Joy Jackson and that if the recent spike in cases continues to surge, she may decide to schedule an emergency school board meeting and recommend extending the delay of the reopening of schools beyond Aug. 24.
Polk Education Association President Stephanie Yocum recently said she supports delaying Polk County Public Schools reopening until Aug. 24, but is also lobbying for schools to reopen with distance learning only.